Can an algae scrubber be too Efficient?

Kann

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I just installed an L4 on my system. It is a 210 with a60 gallon frag tank plumbed in. I have 11 tangs, 4 angelfish, 4 clowns, and just added a bunch of cardinal fish. In my opinion, I feel like I feed a lot!

Since adding the L4, my nutrient levels have drop to 0. Can a scrubber be de-tuned, per se, donuts not as efficient? Is it as simple as running the lights for fewer hours per day? Reducing intensity? What else? Maybe I don’t need a scrubber at all?

Help!!

@Floyd R Turbo
 

rob safron

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They can be very efficient but zero is not always bad in this case. It’s all about nutrients in and out. Feed heavy (your fish will love you). As long as your corals look healthy and not pale they are getting what they need. If they pale, look bad and feeding heavy isn’t enough. Add ammino’s, coral foods, more fish, light the reactor less time, ect. I’m not a fan of dosing phosphates and nitrates. Mine are usually zero but everything is growing like crazy.
 
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Kann

Kann

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Corals are starting to look stressed, almost to the point where some show signs of STN and paling. I’ve been dosing acropower, but I may be able to increase the dosage. Haven’t ever done much in the way if coral foods, but maybe I need to start.
 

rob safron

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Yep. Try amino’s and such. They are many brands such as redsea reef energy Ab. I use Aquaforest ABEV. I also feed 3 times a day and 1-2 sheets of nori. How long do you run your reactor lights. I know BRS had to cut the light to every other night.
 

rob safron

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Also, what do you run your Alk at? You want to be under 8 with ULNS.
 

ReefSlice

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You can try decreasing the photo period on your scrubber a bit. That should help.
 
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Kann

Kann

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I’m running my alk at 9. I’m not intentionally trying to run a low nutrient system; just added the scrubber to keep phosphates and nitrates in check.

I’m going to back off my alk, reduce the intensity and duration of the scrubber lighting, and dose more Acropower until things settle down.

Thanks for all the suggestions!
 

Turbo's Aquatics

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What do you have the intensity knob for the lights set at?

How many hours/day are you running the lights?

How long has the scrubber been up and running?

How often do you harvest?

How much growth are you getting by the end of each growth period? Any pics?

Generally, the rate of nutrient uptake is controlled by the intensity setting and the flow rate. But start with the questions above and we'll go from there
 
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Kann

Kann

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What do you have the intensity knob for the lights set at?

How many hours/day are you running the lights?

How long has the scrubber been up and running?

How often do you harvest?

How much growth are you getting by the end of each growth period? Any pics?

Generally, the rate of nutrient uptake is controlled by the intensity setting and the flow rate. But start with the questions above and we'll go from there
I set it up about a month ago and tried following your guidelines for hours/day and intensity. I was running them around 12 hours/day with the intensity at about 50% (knob at 6:00 position).

I haven't had to harvest any algae yet; the screen is starting to get completely covered, but it is far from needing to be harvested.

I'll take some pics tonight and post them here.

Thanks!
 

Turbo's Aquatics

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You should do a "rub & rinse" type cleaning every 2 weeks at a minimum. This helps keep any slime algae at bay, and will cause some of the more weakly attached algae to break loose (which should be a pretty minimal amount). Rub & Rinse is exactly as it sounds, run under room-temp tap water (medium flow) while rubbing with your fingertips gently. I do this with the screen on a small cutting board (designated for this use so as not to gross out the wife/family). You will also want to scrub the top edge of the screen with the stiff brush and clean the slot pipe at least every 2 weeks.

There is usually a stage within the first month or two where the screen will produce some level of slimy algae, you will want to clear this off so that the GHA takes full hold faster.

Do you run a skimmer or GAC?
 
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Kann

Kann

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You should do a "rub & rinse" type cleaning every 2 weeks at a minimum. This helps keep any slime algae at bay, and will cause some of the more weakly attached algae to break loose (which should be a pretty minimal amount). Rub & Rinse is exactly as it sounds, run under room-temp tap water (medium flow) while rubbing with your fingertips gently. I do this with the screen on a small cutting board (designated for this use so as not to gross out the wife/family). You will also want to scrub the top edge of the screen with the stiff brush and clean the slot pipe at least every 2 weeks.

There is usually a stage within the first month or two where the screen will produce some level of slimy algae, you will want to clear this off so that the GHA takes full hold faster.

Do you run a skimmer or GAC?
I'm running a skimmer. Occasionally run GAC, but not 24x7.

I'll take some pics of the screen tonight and do the "rub & rinse" as you described.

Thanks!
 

Turbo's Aquatics

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I would run a small amount of GAC and place it in the effluent path of the scrubber (between the scrubber drain and the return pump intake, anywhere along that path). This can just be in a media bag. As the scrubber ramps up, the water chemistry could be shifting and some SPS just don't like change, the idea is that the GAC can help mute the effect of the change.
 

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Either reduce the photoperiod or light intensity of the scubber to reduce its efficiency. Most guidelines out there have reducing nitrates in mind when they really should have maintaining a low but stable level of nitrates in mind. This is because far more people have issues with sky high nutrient levels caused by poor maintenance or a lack of experience that’s causing algae outbreaks than are those with already low nutrients due to good maintenance practices and want to keep them that way. Just as with biopellets, if properly tuned, algae scrubbers work far better as a maintaining factor than a ran-flat-out potentially nutrient stripping algae cure-all.
 
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dansreef

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Reduce the light period of your scrubber. Put it on the opposite of the lighting for your display if you can. Also, you can take your scrubber offline for a period if not completely.

I have an oversized algae scrubber and run a nice skimmer. I feed a lot and my fish and corals love it. The downside....all the food I have to buy.... I have used shortened lighting periods and times when the skimmer isn't run. This helps.

Good Luck!
 
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Kann

Kann

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Here are the photos of the screen. I did the “rub and rinse” today. Not a lot of algae, but that’s to be expected with low nutrients. Looks like a lot in the photo, but there really isn’t as much as appears to be. The algae I scraped off is shown in the second pic.

I have the scrubber On a reverse photo period. I’ll continue to adjust duration and intensity until I get it dialed in.

Thanks to everyone for the help!


16F4C145-34EC-4FF3-9572-FA2CC6B06F87.jpeg
E5046EB1-3B5C-4D36-AA4C-FDE9488F95F1.jpeg
 

Crustaceon

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I had the same issue with my ATS. What I ended up doing was completely cleaning one side of the scrubber once it reaches about 1/2” in length and alternating each week or two depending on growth. What happens is when the algae mat gets thicker, it tends to get extremely efficient at stripping the water column clean of nitrates and phosphates until it gets too long, scrubs the water too clean or blocks it’s own light source and the algae at the base starts dying and releases stuff back into the water. Typically by the time this happens, corals start to suffer. This also tends to make chunks of algae mat detach which isn’t very good at maintaining a product algae mat. In an ideal situation, the algae growth would be stunted once nitrates dip to a certain level. That seems to be 2.5ppm for my system.
 

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